Solving IT's mobile app deployment dilemma

Users want iPhones, iPads, and Android devices; IT wants to control application delivery and security. New management tools give them both what they want

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Theoretically, the Volt-provisioned HTML5 apps could be accessed as separate apps on an iOS device's home screen, rather than through Volt. They would still be secured and managed as an app bundle by AMP, but the user would not see that bundling. Some users like to view all their apps individually, while others like to group them; essentially, Volt forces them to be grouped. (Android doesn't support app bundles, so Volt-provisioned HTML5 apps must run within Volt on that platform.)

Antenna CTO Dan Zeck says that the company chose to run the Volt-provisioned apps on iOS devices from within the Volt app because IT customers wanted a visible separation of business and personal apps, both to increase IT's comfort level in the presence of the separation and to help users make the mental switch between private and work activities. But there's no technical reason the apps couldn't appear as individual home screen icons and maintain that behind-the-scenes secure separation in iOS, he notes. (BlackBerry OS 6 also supports such innate separation, though currently it works only with the most recent version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server and for just BES-provisioned apps.)

As is the case with MDM tools that support app provisioning, the AMP server can install and manage native iOS apps only if the enterprise has an enterprise SDK agreement with Apple. AMP then uses those credentials to install the apps directly, without going through the public App Store. This is an Apple requirement, meant to put enterprise apps through the same quality-control standards as any iOS app.

The fretting over mobile app management can now stop
A year ago, CIOs commonly said they wouldn't support iPhones or bring-your-own-device policies due to security and management concerns. Today, that viewpoint is passé, thanks to both the push from users and the release of IT-oriented management tools for iOS and Android devices. As device management concerns have faded, I've heard app management concerns take their place in both private conversations and at IT conferences.

Those app management fears can dissipate, too. Organizations can continue to use the simple solution of provisioning apps directly from a secured website or by emailing users the links -- the only real option for iOS devices until last fall. And now those organizations that need or want to manage applications more directly -- with the same level of control, security, and compliance monitoring they enjoy on the desktop -- have tools to move up to that level.

What is great to see in all this is an approach that gives IT control without unduly confining users. As mobile devices move quickly to being dual-purpose personal/business implements, tools such as Volt let the two usage aspects coexist nicely. Users aren't forced to work with locked-down smartphones and tablets, and IT isn't forced to accept free-for-all devices. Everyone wins.

This article, "Solving IT's mobile app deployment dilemma," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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